It has been over a quarter century since I graduated high school, yet a few of those experiences seem permanently ingrained in me. I still have nightmares about writing Chemistry lab reports. I also can still hear my cross-country coach, Joe Newton’s voice clearly in my head. At that time Coach Newton was 65 years old, and even more “old school” than old. Despite having one of the greatest winning records of all time (28 State titles), his real passion was raising young men of character. Today I am reminded of one phrase he always loved to tell us, “Adversity makes the man!”
It should come as no surprise to any of you that I would characterize Manic Training as hard. There is plenty of adversity that we all encounter just trying to get to the end of the hour. For many of us there is a great deal of adversity just getting to the gym, even when we really want to make it. Even when we practice exercising in the safest possible ways , we are at some point going to face the adversity of an injury. Life happens, work happens, vacations, illness, and many other forms of adversity will step in to try and sideline your progress and momentum. I can attest that everyone I have seen achieve the great benefits of Manic Training have persevered through such adversity. So how is it that some people can persevere while others succumb and resign themselves to thoughts of “I tried” or “It’s not meant to be”? After talking to many of you in person, I have compiled some thoughts for you all.
Winners have a clear understanding of their purpose. They keep the notion of what they are working for and why in the forefront of their minds. When things start to get difficult they are able to understand that this moment will pass and the rewards will be worth it. Those that do not know their “why” will inevitably quit.
-What is your “why”?
Winners believe that their hard work will bring them the results they seek. They are able to delay gratification and see themselves as worthy of receiving the great rewards that lie ahead. Some people see others achieving their goals and think that those people are somehow better or different than themselves. Those that feel unworthy of success will use an obstacle or setback as justification for the belief that they should just give up.
– Are you worthy of having the life of your dreams?
Winners seek out opportunities to test their limits. There is no failure other than the failure to give your very best. Those that live in fear of failure often give up long before real progress can be made. Fear of failure is tied to fear of judgment. At Manic, and in life, people are not near as concerned about you as you think. Everyone is in their own head doing whatever they can to survive.
-Are you brave enough to do your best and let go of the judgments of yourself or others?
Winners understand that today’s efforts are part of a continuum of incremental progress towards betterment. Your best effort today is going to be different then your best effort yesterday or tomorrow, but your commitment and consistency will be rewarded in the long run. Perfectionism is linked with all-or-nothing thinking and leads to the unravelling of progress once any bit of adversity is experienced.
-Are you willing to give your best today and accept the results as they are?
Self esteem and self confidence are the byproduct of directed action. Winners establish core values and principles that they can rely on to help direct their actions independent of their conditions. Esteemable acts breed more confidence and self esteem, providing the winner with the inner resolve to champion forth through challenging times. –What are the core values and principles you will not compromise?
Winners strive for greatness, but thrive through humility and realism. Few things can derail progress quite like false beliefs and expectations. Working towards a goal, expecting that it can be done, is quite different than demanding success. While winners do set goals that are measurable and time sensitive, they understand that the journey and the process are truly rewards in and of themselves. Hard work and dedication will always yield results. Taking a realistic appraisal of how the needle has moved on one’s journey is imperative to staying the course during adverse times.
-What are your expectations for yourself?
The last piece that I am absolutely certain about is that positive people live with an attitude of gratitude. Everyone has the opportunity to choose their own perspective. It truly is up to you whether or not you choose to focus on the blessings you have been given or your demands that have not been met. Some days it is most certainly harder than others to stay in gratitude, but make no mistake, it is a choice that you get to make. Another one of Coach Newton’s favorite phrases was, “Talent doesn’t mead D!@k! Attitude means D!@k!” (I told you he was “old-school”)… Here are 29 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude.
-What are you grateful for?
I hope everyone had a happy and rewarding holiday season and is off to a good start on 2020! New years are always interesting as most of us reflect on what we have done over the last year and what we hope for the year ahead and beyond. I think it is safe to say that in our lives we all have tried to make resolutions, goals, plans or whatever you might refer to them as around this time of year. So often these good intentioned plans fall by the wayside before the first few weeks of the year have even past. I want to pose a different way of enacting change that I have used with some success in hopes that it might help you better achieve the lives you all deserve.
There was a time a few years back when I was writing down daily intentions in my journal every morning with the hope of changing some of my personal character defects. After a few weeks of doing this I looked back through and read out loud some of the entries. What I found was that I had very good intentions of changing, but my word choice lacked courage, strength and conviction. If I was being honest with myself, it felt as if didn’t really believe I could be different and I needed to protect my ego from failure. What am I getting at you may ask? I will give you some examples.
Let’s say I wanted to improve my listening skills. I found that I had written in my journal something like, “I will try and listen intently when others are talking and focus my attention on them.” This is a seemingly good intentioned statement, but I believe it can be restated in a way that has more power. I realized that I can exact a greater effectiveness by assuming my personal change with a statement like, “I am a good listener, I engage with others and am interested in what they have to say.”
It is easy to think these two statements are one in the same, but I challenge you to try and identify where you are using “soft” language that could be changed to more “assertive” phrases. I truly believe that setting a standard of accountability can make us all more effective and successful. I listen to the voice in my head for words like, “try to” or “planning on” or “should”, and shift them to alternative phrases like “ I will” or “I am” or “count on it”.
Life is unpredictable and full of things I cannot control. There are goals I will crush as well as attempts where I will come up short. I have and will continue to deal with my share of both success and disappointment. I have found it does me know service to weaken my stance by preparing for failures. Give it a shot, and let me know how it works for you.
Earlier this summer, Chad came to me with a bucket list plan he wanted to check off for his 47th birthday. He told me his plan was to run the Rim to Rim to Rim. Before I let my colorful imagination run too wild, with what this might be, I asked him exactly what he meant. When he told me it was a run from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other and back, I thought that it sounded pretty amazing. Having never even seen the Grand Canyon, I had no idea he was talking about a 48 mile run with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain! Fear and doubt shot through me, leaving me stunned and silent (perhaps the first time for that).
I found it interesting the wide array of fears I was able to identify. I was certainly afraid of the unavoidable suffering. I was afraid of not being able to do it, basically afraid to fail. I was afraid of the judgement of others if I did in fact come up short. I was afraid of the consequences of being trapped in the Grand Canyon and physically not being able to get myself out. This wasn’t an event, we were going to have to support ourselves entirely. What would I need? How would I carry it all? So much self doubt it was overwhelming.
Then I thought to ask Chad who else was going. There is an adage that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with friends.” Many people were asked to join us, but only a few were willing to entertain the idea. What really hooked me on this adventure was the realization that 3 men (Chad, Mark and James) who I love and admire so much, who undoubtedly were navigating the same fears, were at least tentatively on board. I had to ask myself: what was I more afraid of, being a part of a potential disaster, or missing out on a potential experience of a lifetime. The thing that I have come to learn is fear is a pervasive thread that is continually running through our conscious and subconscious minds. The more aware we are of our fears, the better we can harness them and use them for our benefit. Most everyone can identify things about themselves that they would like to change or better. Somewhere inside there are fears of letting go of who we are that block us from becoming who we could be. When we allow our fear of staying the same surpass our fear of changing, it opens our potential for the most beautiful possibilities.
This trip was in fact one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The pain and suffering endured from the miles and miles of challenging terrain all subsided quite easily. The indescribable vistas we witnessed and magnificent pictures we walked away with are really just a faint reminder of the experience. What does remain, and is permanently imprinted in me, is an extraordinarily deep appreciation for these men I traveled with. Having literally been to the edge and back with another human and understanding how much you’ve relied on them creates so much trust and appreciation. This arduous experience above all created a certain rawness and awareness in me. Once you strip away all the crap that society has convinced you that you need, you can appreciate the only thing of real value is the time and love you have with your real brothers and sisters. Be brave and don’t waste the day!
What’s Next? Defining your Why: A Racer’s Rationale
One question I have been asked many times in my life by people who know me well is, “So, what’s next?”
Nowadays people are usually referring to some sort of race or event I might have on the horizon. In reflection, even when I wasn’t doing a lot of races, I still was asked this same question. It may have been in reference to a vacation (I traveled to 25 states and Canada twice in 1999) or a musical concert (this used to be a HUGE part of my life). I bring this up because I really think it is so important to have some sort of goal out in front of you that you are working for. Training, work, and life in general are difficult, monotonous and full of pitfalls. In order to progress at anything requires persistent, consistent effort. Without some sort of why it is nearly impossible to summon the daily effort required to show up for struggle. There is always an easier softer way available in the society we live in. Ease and comfort are the norm rather than the exception, so one needs to actively seek out struggle in order to receive the underlying rewards that can be found from pain and sacrifice. I challenge you to find something that you want to do that sort of scares you. Hopefully it’s something you think is impossible, or at least something you can’t do. Be brave, accept fear, write down your goal, tell a friend, tell everyone, and set a path of work in front of you. I am someone who doesn’t believe in coincidence. Having been thinking about these ideas for a while and wanting to discuss them, I was extremely touched, but not surprised, to wake up and receive this beautiful message from a friend this morning.
3 years ago you tagged me in this FB post challenging me to run a trail half marathon and I doubted that it was even possible… I had never challenged myself in that way before. You told me “commit, surrender, succeed” and we did it!! That was honestly one of those milestones in my life that you look back on and realized it changed everything. You’ve taught me that nothing is impossible. Even when you think you have nothing left in you, you have more and fear is the only thing holding you back from the greatest things in your life. I live every day pushing for not good, but nothing but the best. Even when it seems too hard or impossible I know with God I can make it happen. Embrace the pain and sucky moments cuz they are part of the amazing journey of greatness and achievement. Learn to love those moments cuz in your weakest moments, you overcome the most and change for the best. Thank you so much for your friendship and for giving me so much: I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I think of you every day and am so proud of all you are doing. You are one of the most amazing people I know and I am beyond proud to call you friend. Commit, surrender, succeed…. you are already doing great things in life and have made so many people’s world brighter just by being in them!
Commit, surrender, succeed….
Last January we held an event at Manic that we called Signing Day. The purpose of this event was to get people to commit to challenges in the upcoming year and solidify why so they would continue to pursue excellence. If you came to that event, now would be a great time to revisit how you did at fulfilling your commitment to yourself. What were your successes? Where did you come up short? What can you do today to make yourself into the person you want to be tomorrow? I will share with you all what is next for me. A trail run from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other and back. Am I terrified? Yes. Does it seem impossible? Yes. What if I share this with you, and I fail? Who cares. Understanding that I don’t own the results, but only the effort and the courage to try, is what frees me up to attempt to be a better more fulfilled person. If any of you wish to share your why with me, I’d be honored to help hold you accountable.
We know people have a million reasons for training with us but the single reason we are driven to create such a positive and intense experience is to be able to enjoy more of the world when we aren’t in the gym. As a Colorado founded community we know that the work that gets done at Manic translates into more fulfilling experiences that the outdoors, sport, and life have to offer.
Train in to adventure so can…
Make it more enjoyable. Instead of looking at the ground because you are so gassed at the top of the mountain, imagine if you fitness kept you stronger longer. Imagine being able to take in all of the beauty around you without worrying about not being able to complete the task of afraid that you won’t be able to walk for the next week. Fitness doesn’t necessary make everything easy but it makes everything much easier!
Go farther and longer. One of the coolest things about being more fit for adventure is that you can do more with the same amount of time. Whether it’s paddling down the river or biking across the canyon, you’ll be able to see more. Having more experiences is having more life with your time.
Do it with the people you love. If you are a parent or if your peer group is younger. Even if you peer group is aging but staying in great shape, doing the things you love with the people you love will always be a driving force and the primary why for so many who workout at Manic. It’s not always about you, getting fit and taking care of yourself is for people who want you around just as much.
Why do you train?
Do you believe in our idea of what it means to be fit out of the gym?
We hope SO!
So many people never take the first step. To walk through the doors of Manic and give at least one workout a try. For those who do, we want you to know after seeing and working with thousands of clients and sessions that we know what you might be thinking.
Will I be able to keep up with everyone else? What if I don’t know how to do something? Will it be embarrassing if I am really out of shape? Overweight? Older? I have an injury that makes certain things hard, should I still come in?
Let us answer some of these questions for you right now!
Will I be able to keep up with everyone else?
Who knows? It doesn’t even matter. Can you imagine a scenario where 20 completely different people all had the exact same fitness level? It’s impossible. On top of that, different people have different stresses, levels of sleep, and a million other things that make us all different. That is what is so cool about be able to go and train with so many different types of people everyday. You may try to keep up with a couple people that are good at certain things, learn from a couple others with other movements, and so on and so on. The learning never stops and there is zero judgment here at Manic. Knowing that less than one percent ever come through the door puts you in a class all it’s own!
What if I don’t know how to do something?
That’s why we have coaches. Our coaches coach. They don’t just set the workout, sit back, and watch. We want you to continue to be challenged both physically and mentally and sometimes that means you will feel lost and frustrated. It’s okay. Everyone comes out the other side stronger.
Will it be embarrassing if I am really out of shape? Overweight? Older?
No mirrors, no ego’s, no judgment. It’s built into our ethos and that will never change. Out of shape? That’s fine. We can ease you into a level that works until you can go harder based on YOUR fitness. Overweight, we don’t care. This may be that first step to getting somewhere you are happy with again. Older? We have plenty of 60 and 70+ year olds. We modify where needed and gear to their needs. Like we do for everyone at Manic. So there you go, three more excuses down the drain!
I have an injury that makes certain things hard, should I still come in?
Absolutely. Sometimes, injuries give us a chance to work on something that needs work anyway. We take great pride in modifying training for injuries and limitations. We may only need to modify one or two movements or most of the workout. We will do whatever we can to keep you moving, happy, and healthy!